Barbie Turns 50, Parties All Year Long

LOS ANGELES Mattel has announced initial plans for Barbie’s yearlong, global 50th birthday celebration. Bloomingdale’s, colette, Stila, Dylan’s Candy Bar, Jonathan Adler and 50 fashion designers are just some of those invited to the party.

Over the course of the year, Barbie’s birthday will be celebrated through a host of “pink carpet” events that aim to get the doll back on track as an aspirational fashion brand with cultural relevance, said Richard Dickson, gm and svp, Barbie. He said while certain aspects of the brand, such as entertainment, have been successful, the Barbie brand has become fragmented over the past seven or eight years as it responded to a barrage of Bratz, tech toys and other playthings.

“We did things that were the right things to do, but lacked clarity around the Barbie DNA” — things that Dickson hopes the 50th celebration will help refocus, he said. “One: She’s a fashion doll and always needs to reflect what’s on trend. Two: It’s about aspiration, the opportunities inspiring girls to be anything they want to be — Barbie’s had more than 100 careers. And three: She needs to be culturally relevant.”

On Feb. 14, during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York, 50 designers will come together to show their Barbie-inspired designs on life-size models at a runway show, which will also be streamed on Interior designer Jonathan Adler is tricking out a beach pad to transform it into Barbie’s Malibu Dream House for her March 9 birthday party. VIP guests who covet
pottery, pillows and other decor pieces can replicate it via the “Jonathan Adler Loves Barbie” capsule collection that will be available at the designer’s store and Web site.

Cosmetics company Stila will be Barbie’s official prestige makeup partner for 2009. It will release a limited edition spring collection of beauty cans and a talking palette, and a larger fall program, to be available at Sephora. The beauty program also includes a licensing deal for a high-end Barbie T3 hair dryer.

Retail partners are also getting involved. “Barbie Loves Bloomingdale’s NYC” is a monthlong promotion in which the midtown store will decorate its Third Avenue windows with plastic princesses and feature 120 vintage Barbies in an in-store display. A 242-square-foot Bloomie’s boutique will showcase Barbie-branded fashion, accessories and, of course, dolls, from Feb. 11 to March 15. Mannequins will display the Fashion Week designs.

Also in March, Barbie will get an eight-story retail-tainment shrine in Shanghai, complete with flagship store, spa, restaurant and runway for girls. In Paris, fashion boutique colette will feature a capsule apparel collection by designer Jeremy Scott. Dylan’s Candy Bar in New York will also be part of the celebration.